Worldwide revenue for the combined consumer and enterprise WLAN market segments increased 17.9% year over year in the fourth quarter of 2020 (4Q20) and grew 10.3% for the full year, according to IDC. The enterprise segment grew revenues an impressive 10.3% year over year in 4Q20 to reach $1.86 billion and 1.9% for the full year 2020, reaching $6.35 billion.
A key driver for the enterprise WLAN market is the rapid emergence of the Wi-Fi 6 standard, also known as 802.11ax. Across the enterprise segment, Wi-Fi 6-enabled dependent APs made up 43.7% of revenues, up from 39.9% of revenues in the third quarter of 2020, indicating strong continued adoption of the newest WLAN standard.
Wi-Fi 6 units accounted for 32.2% of dependent AP shipments, up from 26.7% in the previous quarter. The Wi-Fi 5 standard, 802.11ac, still makes up the majority of dependent AP shipments (62.7%) and revenues (55.2%). Overall unit shipments in the enterprise WLAN market grew 14.0% in 4Q20 compared to a year earlier.
Meanwhile, the consumer WLAN market continued to show strength in the final quarter of 2020. Revenues increased 23.8% year over year in 4Q20 and rose 16.4% for the full year. Within the consumer market, 60.5% of shipments and 68.7% of revenues were for 802.11ac products, indicating the slower adoption of Wi-Fi 6 in the consumer market compared to the enterprise market. WLAN equipment supporting the older 802.11n standard still made up 32.9% of unit shipments and 15.1% of revenues.
“The enterprise WLAN market showed strength in the fourth quarter of 2020 and drove the full year 2020 results to just under 2.0% growth,” said Brandon Butler, senior research analyst, Network Infrastructure, IDC. “Given the challenges faced by organizations due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, the WLAN market’s growth for the full year exemplifies how enterprises continue to prioritize wireless as a connectivity method.”
From a geographic perspective, the WLAN market saw mixed results across the globe. In North America, the United States’ enterprise WLAN market grew 10.6% year over year in 4Q20 while Canada’s grew 10.2%. For the full year, the U.S. enterprise WLAN market grew 4.9%. Across Europe, Central and Eastern Europe’s enterprise WLAN market increased 9.9% in the quarter and was up 1.5% for the full year, with Russia increasing 17.0% in 4Q20.
In Western Europe, the enterprise WLAN market fell 3.8% in the quarter and was off 8.7% for the full year, with the United Kingdom dropping 10.2% year over year in 4Q20 and France declining 4.5% in the quarter. The Middle East and Africa region expanded 14.1% in the quarter and grew 7.0% for the full year, with Turkey growing a robust 27.2% in 4Q20.
The Asia/Pacific region, excluding Japan and China, was slightly down for the quarter, declining 2.1% and falling 7.6% for the full year. China ended the year strong with 15.9% growth in the fourth quarter to finish with 3.1% growth for the full year. Japan’s market grew a remarkable 109.6% in the fourth quarter. The Latin America segment grew 1.0% in the quarter and ended the full year down 8.1% in 2020 compared to 2019.
“The consumer WLAN market continues to grow at a fast clip due to the demands of remote work and schooling across many parts of the world,” noted Petr Jirovsky, research director, Worldwide Networking Trackers. “Meanwhile, the enterprise segment showed some resiliency in 2020 despite the unfavorable macro-economic conditions brought on by the pandemic with certain geographies recovering to end 2020 stronger than others.”
Enterprise WLAN vendor updates
- Cisco’s enterprise WLAN revenues increased 2.4% year over year in 4Q20, but the company ended 2020 with full-year revenues declining 2.5%. Cisco remains the market share leader, finishing the year with 42.7% share.
- HPE-Aruba revenues rose 6.1% year over year in 4Q20 and declined 1.0% for the full year. The company’s market share remained at 13.5% to close 2020.
- Ubiquiti enterprise WLAN revenues increased 37.5% year over year in 4Q20 and rose 22.3% for the full year, giving the company 8.4% market share.
- Huawei had a strong fourth quarter with revenues rising 27.2% year over year. For the full year, revenues were up 14.0%, giving the company 6.2% share to end the year.
- CommScope (formerly ARRIS/Ruckus) revenues were flat in 4Q20 compared to the same quarter a year earlier, giving the company 4.8% market share.